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Should You Leave Your Job to Find Purpose in Life?

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Do you feel bored at work and wonder how to bring more meaning to your life? If so, you are not alone. Many have gone through this, including the one who has written these words. When we feel empty and bored at work, looking for an alternative – a more meaningful path is expected.

So, deciding to devote yourself to finding your purpose is great, but should you leave your job for that?

Based on my mistake of quitting my job to find my lane, I want to warn others from doing so or at least better estimate the risks involved with such a decision.

By and large, you shouldn’t leave your job to find your purpose. In addition to financial instability, quitting the job usually leads to spending too much time alone thinking, which can be counterproductive for finding a purpose.

That said, there are a few circumstances in which you may want to quit your job to know yourself better.

In this article, I’ll show you why quitting your job for self-discovery isn’t a good decision in most cases. But before diving in, it’s essential to clarify what “finding purpose” stands for so we’ll be on the same page.

Disclaimer : The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only, and it is not a substitue for professional advice. The article may contain affiliate links. See the full disclaimer for more details.

What does it mean to find your purpose

This vague self-help concept is rolling everywhere on YouTube, podcasts, blogs, and self-help books. This term is ambiguous because it refers to some big destiny or gift we need to somehow find in a moment of enlightenment. But purpose means how you want to live your life with joy and meaning. That could be your career, hobbies, volunteer work, living as a digital nomad, community leader, artistry, entrepreneurship, becoming a content creator, and more. Finding your purpose is usually a long process of being mindful of the projects and little things that bring you the spark or let you forget about the time. It’s typically involved with having an impact on other people too.

Now that you know what purpose is and what it’s not, let’s dive into our question. Should you quit your job to find your purpose?

Based on my long quest for self-discovery in the past years, I can confidently tell you that you should not, with a caveat – you know, there is always a caveat.

Don’t quit your job to find your purpose

Financial instability

Let’s start with the obvious. Leaving your job without a concrete career plan or other daily job is financially risky. The rent and the bills won’t pay themselves. Unfortunately, the modern world requires us to work hard to make ends meet. This is how it is and will probably remain like this until you build a lucrative business or a steady passive income source. So, don’t quit your job until you get an alternative income source. As the term side hustle refers – you can start a business on the side without leaving your job.

As obvious as it sounds, I went wrong and went all in to dive into finding my purpose. I started to use my savings and got support from my family after a few months of “self-discovery” break. Not only do you become a burden on your spouse or family (if they can support you for a while) this way, but the financial concerns distract you from finding your long-term, lucrative path. Learn from my mistake. You can try to reduce working hours but not quite entirely.

Your job keeps you in a doing mode

In most cases, you shouldn’t leave your job to explore your path. Unless you plan an extended vacation between roles and have a date to start the new position, don’t quit your job to find your purpose.

Our purpose is not an abstract entity that floats out there and waits for us to find it.

Your purpose is something you like doing or an endeavor that lets you feel fulfilled. You can only figure that out by experiencing life, not overthinking it.

Thinking after experiencing projects, hobbies, and new lifestyles – is the way to go, but only as part of living a stable life of doing things. It’s called a job. This place you commute to every day or work from home but communicate with a boss and workmates daily.

Without the job environment, we can also gradually lose our peace of mind. For example, when I quit the insurance company I worked for to have more time to think about my next step, I gradually developed mind-body symptoms – back pain, shoulder pain, muscle weakness, heartburn, anxiety, and more unpleasant stuff. I felt terrible and still carry some of these symptoms today.

So don’t immerse yourself into the quest of purpose full-time. It’s unhealthy. You need the system to protect you from overthinking and doing nothing practically.

You don’t need to quit your job to find meaning in life

Finding meaning in life is not solely dependent on your career. You can discover your passion and purpose through various activities outside of work, such as pursuing a new hobby, starting a side hustle, or volunteering. These pursuits can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment that may be missing in your current job.

Try out a new hobby, learn a new professional skill, take a personal growth online course, vacation in a beautiful relaxing place, spend more time in nature, be more active in your community, and know yourself better through dating and meeting new people. There are many ways to know your passions after work hours or on weekends!

You don’t need to fall into the temptation to go all in to explore your purpose. That’s redundant. You can preserve the job to make a living while getting meaning from other sources. Moreover, even if you don’t like the job, it can still be meaningful in different aspects. A recent Harvard study indicates that people can find meaning while working in an impactful job they don’t like, or vice versa – if they enjoy the work in a less prestigious role 1.

Here you can learn more about the differences between finding purpose and a career.

leaving your job may not necessarily solve the problem

You might find yourself in a similar situation in your next job or even regretting your decision to quit altogether. For example, I switched jobs in my 20s and the beginning of my 30s to find a job I like. During that period, the same disappointment occurred each time I changed my position.

In hindsight, I understand that I looked in the wrong place. The standard office work as an employee couldn’t give me what I wished for – creating something of my own. So, it was the first research project as part of my Ph.D. attempt. Then, after letting go of that lane, it was my blog where I could create meaningful content to help others.

Instead of quitting your job, take the time after work hours to explore and reflect on what you truly value and enjoy and how you can incorporate those elements into your current position or other areas of your life.

Finding purpose is a long-lasting quest anyways

Ultimately, finding purpose in life is a journey that requires patience and introspection. It may take time to discover what truly fulfills you, and it requires you to be open-minded to experiment with new projects and activities and self-reflect on them consistently. Staying at home overthinking for a couple of months is most likely not the way to do that. Exploring your purpose takes time, so it’s best to do it on the side of your job.

Exploring your passions both within and outside of work is worth the effort. So, rather than quitting your job, consider how to create more purpose and meaning through various avenues and ongoing self-reflection.

When it makes sense to leave your job for self-discovery?

You might still want to quit your job for self-discovery in a few situations. A classic example is experimenting with a new form of living your life like a digital nomad. What was a rare option has become a widespread path that more people choose to try 2. Of course, some find it hard to live that way as they need more social stability, but others continue this lifestyle and enjoy it.

So, if changing your lifestyle, like becoming a nomad, is your thing, you can try it. If that were my thing, I’d try it responsibly. First, I would have asked people who live that way what it is like and what they enjoy or struggle with the most. Then I would have tried living as a nomad for a limited time and still preserved the option in my workplace as long as possible.

Final words

To avoid making a hasty decision on your next step, take a deep breath and think again. It’s worth considering the practicalities of leaving your job and the psychological impacts of such a decision.

Do you have a plan for your finances and future job prospects? Leaving your job spontaneously can lead to stress and uncertainty not only because of cutting out your income but also because you’ll have too much time alone overthinking. I was there. I went all in to find my next step, and my mental state deteriorated. Learn from my mistake!

There are vacations to devote time to yourself and think about your lane. Then, there are the weekends and evenings when you can try different hobbies, volunteer work, or social activities in your community. These can give you options to find meaning in life and know your passions and talents. Also, it’s always a good idea to journal daily or weekly about your experiences with the projects at work – what parts you enjoyed, what less, and what skills you might want to have next.

I can’t tell you what to do. Every person is different, and so are the specific circumstances of life. However, as a rule of thumb, the most responsible way to quitting the job is to find the next job while still working in your current job. This is how my friends did it, and they navigated their life progress more smoothly than me.

To find your purpose step-by-step, check this guide.

  1. You Don’t Have to Quit Your Job to Find More Meaning in Life, Shalene Gupta, Harvard Business School[]
  2. Digital Nomad Lifestyle – Why is it becoming more popular? Hatim Khan, published on LinkedIn[]